What to know about muzzling your dog


Many pet owners choose to muzzle their dogs, for a variety of reasons. The most common questions asked before this happens include what type of muzzle should be used, when it should be used, and how best to use it.

Nylon versus basket muzzles

The two types of muzzles are nylon and basket. Nylon muzzles are made of several strips of nylon fabric, one that wraps around the dog's snout and closes it completely and two more that attach behind the ears. Basket muzzles are what they sound like, a basket-type device that fits over the dog's snout and is usually made of heavy plastic or wire.

Nylon muzzles restrict panting, so they should not be used in warm weather for more than a few minutes lest the dog overheat. However, they are a good idea when a dog likely to snap is handled by a vet or a groomer.

A basket muzzle allows a dog to open and close their mouth, but can also be used aggressively. An aggressive dog may perform a type of headbutt with their mouth when wearing a basket muzzle to attack a person or another dog. However, they may be more useful in dog training than nylon muzzles, as a dog is still able to accept treats from their trainer while wearing one.

When and why should dogs be muzzled

  • A dog should be muzzled when they are likely to bite.

  • A dog should be muzzled when they are placed in stressful situations and have been known to be aggressive.

Side note: If you can avoid situations that may need a muzzle, do so.

How best to use a muzzle

Do this…

  • Use rewards and patience to teach your dog to be comfortable wearing one.

  • Make sure the muzzle fits properly.

  • If the dog is going to wear it longer than a few minutes, make sure they can open their mouth enough to pant and keep cool.

  • Use a muzzle as a safety tool for an aggression or fear-training program with a qualified trainer.

  • Couple a muzzle with a leash as a safety backup.

Do not do this…

  • Do not replace a crate with a muzzle to stop chewing when you are not around. This too may result in injury from your dog trying to get to muzzle off. It may also increase behavioral problems because of frustration.

  • Do not use a muzzle as an anti-fight device. Muzzled dogs can still fight and injure themselves and each other.

  • Do not use a muzzle to stop a barking problem. The most probable underlying issues when there is a barking problem are anxiety and boredom, and these issues would be better solved other ways.

  • Do not leave your dog unattended while they are wearing the muzzle, as this may result in injury from your dog trying to get the muzzle off.

  • Do not let your guard down when your dog is wearing a muzzle. There is always a chance the dog may get out of it.

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